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Oh, stretch marks… I got stretch marks with my first pregnancy and have since gotten rid of them, even through five more pregnancies. Better yet, I haven’t gotten any new ones! I think it’s largely due to a healthy diet and lifestyle, but today I’m also sharing my stretch mark salve moisturizer I make.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade a second of motherhood for better abs, but just because I earned my mama stripes doesn’t mean I want to keep them!
Aside from pregnancy, this salve is great for nourishing skin during weight gain or weight loss for any reason.
Stretch Mark Salve: Why Do We Need It?
While it’s often blamed on genetics (and there’s some truth to this), other things contribute to stretch marks. When skin grows and stretches rapidly, like during puberty, severe weight gain, or pregnancy, stretch marks are often the result.
According to Mayo Clinic, higher levels of cortisol also have a negative impact on our skin tone and weakens elastin fibers in the skin. (Here’s how I got my cortisol back under control.)
Can You Actually Remove Stretch Marks?
While there isn’t a DIY stretch mark cream that will magically erase them, it can help fade stretch marks. Over the years I’ve found several key things that worked for me to fade my “tiger stripes”.
- Consume lots of grass-fed collagen and gelatin to help skin repair, rebuild, and maintain elasticity. Homemade bone broth, gelatin and collagen powder are all good sources
- I’ve noticed a big difference in skin firmness since using red light therapy! Even my C-section scar is fading the more I use it.
- Get your daily dose, of vitamins that is. Healthy fats for fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamin C and sun exposure for vitamin D help skin repair from stretch marks. Read more about my approach to a skin-healthy diet for pregnancy here.
Ingredients for the Best Stretch Mark Cream
There are a few key ingredients that have a proven track record when it comes to fading scars and stretch marks. A good stretch mark salve also helps keep skin supple as it stretches during pregnancy to accommodate baby. Here’s a breakdown of why I chose each ingredient and what it does to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Oh let me count the ways… Coconut oil gets a lot of use around our house, from toothpaste to hair treatments, to skincare. It’s also helpful in this stretch mark removal cream. Coconut oil can also help prevent stretch marks by helping skin grow without tearing.
Don’t have any virgin coconut oil on hand? You can substitute equal parts shea butter and liquid carrier oil (like sweet almond or olive oil).
Apricot Kernel Oil
This isn’t an oil I use as often as coconut oil, but I really like it in this DIY stretch mark salve recipe. Apricot kernel oil is high in the antioxidant vitamin E and supports the skin’s protective barrier. It’s really high in linoleic acid to nourish skin and is a light, faster absorbing oil.
If you don’t have any apricot kernel oil on hand, then sweet almond oil or grapeseed can also be used.
Shea and Cocoa Butter
Long term use of shea butter helps soften and strengthen skin. It’s been used for many years medicinally, including in wound care. My favorite part about shea is how it provides skin with what it needs to produce collagen for supple, strong skin.
Cocoa butter is harder than shea butter but has a lot of the same benefits. This butter helps prevent moisture loss from skin and is traditionally used to both prevent and get rid of stretch marks. It’s very moisturizing and nourishing for dry skin.
Both shea butter and cocoa butter have unique properties and can’t totally replace each other. That said if you only have one or the other you can still make this recipe. If replacing the cocoa butter with shea butter though use a little less since it’s harder.
If you’re using just shea butter, then a little beeswax will help firm up the homemade stretch mark cream.
Rosehip Seed Oil
While some may say it’s better than botox for wrinkles, rosehip seed oil is also great for stretch marks. Rosehip seed oil is really high in vitamin A, C, and E to promote healthy collagen and skin cell formation. Because it’s slightly drying, it helps balance out the heavier feel of the butters and coconut oil in this stretch mark salve.
Calendula and Ginger
Yes, it’s totally possible to just use oil and butters, but why not infuse them with the benefits of herbs? Calendula is great for all things skin-related and helps stimulate collagen production.
Ginger is known to increase circulation and decrease inflammation to help improve skin tone. It also helps prevent collagen breakdown to keep skin firm. A 2013 article in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Industry reports that ginger helps with skin repair.
Essential Oils for Stretch Marks
Essential oils during pregnancy are controversial, to put it nicely. Thankfully we do have some safe options when it comes to skincare. According to experts, essential oils should be limited during the first trimester and certain ones should be avoided altogether.
We can use up to a 4% dilution for smaller areas of the body during pregnancy. For balance, this stretch mark salve uses a 2% dilution, though you could go a little stronger if preferred. The following essential oils can safely be used in the second and third trimesters to help reduce and fade stretch marks:
- Lavender essential oil
- Cedarwood essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Patchouli essential oil
- Helichrysum essential oil
Homemade Stretch Mark Cream
This salve is designed to keep skin supple to accommodate a growing belly and soothe any pregnancy-related skin irritation. It’s super simple to make so I can even manage to remember the recipe when I have placenta brain. It can be whipped to make a lotion consistency that’s basically a body butter.
Homemade Stretch Mark Salve Recipe
- ¼ cup coconut oil virgin
- ¼ tsp dried ginger optional
- 1 TBSP calendula flowers optional
- ¼ cup shea butter unrefined
- 2 TBSP cocoa butter
- 3 TBSP apricot kernel oil
- 1 tsp rosehip seed oil
- 20 drops vitamin E oil optional to extend shelf life
- 20-40 drops pregnancy safe essential oil of choice optional
- Add the coconut oil, calendula, and ginger to the top of a double boiler. Heat water underneath to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the herbs. Skip this step if you aren’t using the herbs.
- Add the cocoa butter and shea butter to the top of the double boiler. Heat just until melted, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients.
- Pour into a metal tin or glass jar and put in the fridge to cool. This fast cool time helps prevent the shea butter from going grainy and beading up.
Shelf life and storage: This should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and light. The salve should last about a year if stored properly, if not longer.
Ever tried a salve for stretch marks? What have you done that’s helped get rid of them? Share below!
Discussion (156 Comments)
I am hoping to be pregnant very soon! In the meantime, would you recommend it as a good moisturizer? Every moisturizer I use gives me red bumps on my legs or doesn’t absorb well 🙁 thanks!
It is great as a moisturizer too!
This is great thanks!! Do you recommend any essential oils that are safe during pregnancy? Seems like the list is rather short!
For the most part, I avoid essential oils during pregnancy but I’ve added a homemade vanilla oil before…
This sounds great! I’ve never heard of those flowers, what exactly do they do? Or are they just used for fragrance? Thanks!
They are actually in the marigold family, but contain properties that benefit the skin…
Do you have or do you make videos of you making these salves and sprays? For some reason visually seeing it done is easier for me to grasp and not get anxious about the process and messing it up.
Sonja Siivola Cook
I have shea butter and apricot kernel oil-would that work?
Sonja Siivola Cook
Awesome! Thank you.
Sonja Siivola Cook
What can I use in place of coconut oil, allergic to it?
You can use equal parts shea butter and almond oil…
I would recommend bio oil from walgreens and Palmers cocoa butter lotion, I used those two during my second pregnancy which worked great after getting a lot a lot of stretch marks 11 yrs earlier with my 1st pregnancy. My stomach looks amazing compared to before I used it twice a day for 8 months, and now every once in awhile. Mine are not gone completely but their so light u can barely see them and now with working out I’m sure as my stomach/abs tighten they will look more gone than now. Doesn’t hurt to try’ take care
I would not use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula it has known carcinogens and other known toxic ingredients. You can check all products on EWG website. Making your own really is best. Corporations want to maximize profits and use many synthetic and cheap toxic chemicals as a result. You can purchase a pound of synthetic Lavender fragrance for $1 vs $211 one pound of a natural Lavender essential oil. Steep difference. Plus natural carrier oils are more expensive than the synthetically made or modified ones. I doubt you will ever need to buy a pound of a natural essential oil so purchasing the smaller amount of what you need is still cost effective and safer for your body. 1/2 oz. of essential lavender oil is $12.75 and you use a dropper to count the drops you want to add into your homemade lotion mixture. Check out the toxic chemicals palmers uses….http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/brand/Palmer%27s/
Would this work with cocoa butter instead of shea? That’s what I have on hand at the moment. Also, I wonder if this could be made into a whipped body butter, rather than a salve? Think I may have to try that. 🙂
I just had to report back that I made this with the cocoa butter than I had on hand, with some calendula-infused olive oil that I also needed to use up, and coconut oil. Instead of melting them in a double boiler, I stuck them all at room temp into my food processor and let it beat them into a nice, smooth, whipped body butter. Much nicer to apply than a salve. 🙂
I think I’ll try that
what was the portions for the ingredents you used
I am also curious. I have a hard time imagining a salve being able to reverse stretch marks…but that would be SUPER!
Shea butter is supposed to be naturally helpful in healing scars and keeping skin supple. The dietary side is also really important for replacing collagen…
Would you say you got rid of your existing stretch mark with this salve or was it more because of your diet? If it was the diet what particular food did you include that helped get rid of them? And how long did it take?
There is a link to the diet in the post.. I would say it was definitely a combination…
So can this actually remove stretch marks if it’s been over a year since you’ve given birth? I didn’t think that was really possible without some type of laser treatment? Not to doubt, just hoping for some clarification, because I’d love to get rid of mine (they’re pretty bad…)
Mine went away… but like I said, I think diet played a big role too by helping heal from the inside out…
I’ve been eating a healthy diet for years, so that wasn’t a factor at all, but most of what I’ve read said it has more to do with genetics than anything else, which is why I just wonder if there’s something out there that does work that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars. Thanks for replying!
I had really bad s.m, from my son.(he was 10.6 lbs!) With my girl didn’t get them as much. I started using vitamin E oil from Wal-Mart by the vitamins, $4. 2x’s a day.It really helped heal my scars, way better than any expensive cream ever did. Coconut oil is really good too. I would chose 1 or both and apply 2x’s a day.I don’t want any new ones this time! good luck:)
I haven’t tried vitamin E oil specifically… although some of the stuff I’ve used has that in it. Thanks for the suggestion! Although I’m worried that they won’t go away much now after two years. 🙁
Not a fan of coconut oil myself really… too sticky, clogs my pores and doesn’t seem to actually absorb into my skin (just sits on top and then I have to work harder to exfoliate). I also used that on stretch marks (and while pregnant) and did nothing for my stretch marks. 🙁 That’s why I’m buying more into the genetic (and diet) idea.
I tried the above recipe and it’s done nothing. Sadly. Have also been dry brushing for several months and no improvement. I think it’s hard to actually “prove” these things work in general, because how do you (general you) know the marks wouldn’t have disappeared/faded on their own, or that you wouldn’t have gotten any in the first place? Tricky.
Have you tried Bio Oil? It’s a new oil from Europe. Now available in the US, and It’s not too expensive!! Look for it at the drugstore. It faded some stretch marks I had from puberty and I’m now in my 40’s!
Do you think this would help with older 3rd degree burn scars?
Ashley, I am a mom of 6, soon to be 7. Had HORRIBLE stretch marks. Lotions and creams didn’t seem to help. But!!! Now that I’ve been incorporating grass fed collagen and dairy/beef into my diet (2years) they have faded drastically, and though I’m heavier than I’ve ever been and expectating my 7th, my skin is more supple and elastic than it ever has been, no signs of stretch marks and I only have 8 weeks left.
Hope it helps and gives you hope. Btw, my mom (4 babies, last one at 42 years old) has never had a stretch mark and my sis almost none, so my genetics are definitely different cause I got them BAAAD on all 3 b’s with my first pregnancy 15 years ago.
Well, What did you eat?
how long did it take you for yours to go away?
Do you put the calendula flowers into a food processor before measuring or do you measure with the whole flower? Love your site!
I have actually used plain cocoa butter, and stretch marks didn’t even develop on my belly where I applied it. They developed on other areas that didn’t get the cocoa butter treatment
Hi Wellness Mama! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ll be making some for my niece who has really bad stretch marks! Blessings from Bama!